As theaters recover from the pandemic, the February 2023 box office numbers are far surpassing those of the same month in 2022. January and February have come to be known as “dump months” in which studios typically release films that may have niche audiences and aren’t expected to perform well commercially. However, recent years have been changing this perception with an influx of shockingly successful horror and comedy movies, with February 2023’s theatrical releases prospering even more remarkably than February 2022.
While the biggest release of February 2022 was the Tom Holland-starring action film Uncharted, which ultimately earned over $401 million worldwide, February 2023 has a broader range of hits. Kicking off with the surprisingly successful comedy 80 for Brady, which has already surpassed its budget, February 2023 also features box office winners with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Knock at the Cabin, Titanic’s 25th-anniversary re-release, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, and the continued domination of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. With February 24’s Cocaine Bear also expected to be a hit, the February 2023 box office will continue its remarkable success streak.
February 2023’s Box Office Has Already Surpassed 2022’s Numbers
The cumulative domestic gross of February 2022 was approximately $365.9 million, with Uncharted making up nearly a quarter of this gross. Meanwhile, February 2023 is already at $365 million with an entire box office weekend remaining (via Box Office Mojo). In fact, the final major release of February 2023 is the true story-inspired Cocaine Bear on February 24, which means the month’s total box office gross will see a big jump over its last four days. Granted, February 2023 has more theatrical releases than February 2022, but there will continue to be a significant rise in box office earnings across the board that make this year a greater success.
In February 2023, the biggest money-makers at the domestic box office have been Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Knock at the Cabin, 80 for Brady, James Cameron’s smash hit Avatar: The Way of Water, and the MCU’s latest installment Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The latter movie has already earned well over $120 million after its opening weekend, though it’s unclear how significant its second-week drop will be given recent trends in MCU dips. Still, it won’t be enough for February 2022’s numbers to come anywhere close to the final cumulative gross for February 2023’s box office, which has been dominated by Disney and Universal movies.
Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania & Cocaine Bear Will Make February 2023 Even Bigger
Given the previous two Ant-Man movies earned $519.3 and $622.7 million, respectively, February 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania isn’t expected to perform much higher at the box office. Projections place Ant-Man 3’s box office earnings at approximately $750 million worldwide, though only a small portion of this total would be seen in the remainder of February. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will likely earn at least another $50 million at the domestic box office over the weekend of February 24, which would bring February’s cumulative gross above $415 million.
While box office hit Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will doubtlessly remain the highest-grossing film of February 2023, Cocaine Bear will contribute to another significant hike in the month’s cumulative total until February 28. Universal’s horror-comedy movie has received significant buzz online, especially through its outrageous Super Bowl 2023 trailers and teasers, which sets the film up to enjoy a healthy box office opening. Cocaine Bear is expected to open at around $20 million, which could be higher given the notable praise in the film’s early reviews. With Cocaine Bear’s earnings, the February 2023 domestic box office total could jump even further to nearly $440 million.
Of course, the final weekend of February 2023 will also see help at the box office from continued showings of Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. Additionally, attendance for movies like Knock at the Cabin, Titanic, 80 for Brady, and Magic Mike’s Last Dance will keep the numbers high for the end of the month. As such, the cumulative domestic box office gross for February 2023 could end up around $450 million, thus nearly $100 million higher than February 2022’s box office.
February 2023’s Box Office Still Can’t Compete With Pre-Pandemic Numbers
While February 2023’s box office is an improvement from 2022, it still hasn’t bounced back from the month’s numbers in 2020 and before. Since February 2020 was the last full month before the COVID-19 pandemic tanked box office numbers and theaters shut down, its box office gross was actually relatively high at $638 million, a $10 million increase from February 2019. February 2018 was also massive due to the release of the domestic box office smash Black Panther, which brought the month’s total to a record-high of $1.004 billion.
While February 2018 is a noted exception to the typical numbers of this month, February 2023 proves the box office still needs time to recover. Aside from Ant-Man 3, which wasn’t expected to perform anywhere close to Black Panther’s box office, February 2023 didn’t have enough blockbuster releases to reach these heights. However, with February 2024 slated to be the premiere month for an untitled Universal animated movie and Sony’s Madame Web, the box office numbers for next year have the potential to increase further.